Online poker group PartyGaming said revenues were up 54 per cent as record numbers of players gambled more money on its tables.

The operator of PartyPoker, based in Gibraltar and is the world's largest online poker company, yesterday revealed revenues hit $342.6 million (£193.3 million) in the first three months of the year.

It came as the company's poker tables attracted a record 263,254 new players and the amount of money it made from each player increased from $17.9 in the final quarter of 2005 to $18.5 in the first quarter of 2006.

PartyGaming said that 39 per cent of the new players were from outside the United States, where the future of online gambling is under threat from proposed legislation to ban it. PartyGaming finance director Martin Wei-gold said: "The first quarter has seen continued strong growth in poker on the back of record numbers of poker sign-ups."

PartyGaming said it was confident of progressing further this year, but Investec Securities analyst Matthew Gerard warned that the threat of regulation from the US was "likely to lead to volatility across the sector in the near term".

In its efforts to rely less on the US market - where a bill to outlaw online gambling is being considered - the company now offers in French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and Russian.

"More foreign language versions are going to be rolled out later in the year along with our multi-currency offering," said Mr Weigold.

The company said the launch of blackjack last year boosted growth with net revenues from the game averaging $700,000 (£396,000) a day.

PartyGaming said the introduction of in February lifted overall casino revenues and would help further growth in future. The firm also said the imminent launch of backgammon, the first of two new games this year, would provide an additional source of revenue.

Mr Weigold said: "PartyGaming has made a very positive start to the year.

"The launch of our two new games and the promotion of should provide further impetus over the coming months, and while the usual seasonal pattern can be expected to influence the second and third quarter performance, the group remains confident of making good progress in the current year."

Deutsche Bank analyst Simon Champion said: "The outlook for 2006 looks positive, with backgammon due to be launched imminently, and other developments due to be implemented during the year, all of which we would expect to be incrementally positive."

Shares closed down 23/4p at 149p.